News In Brief
NWREporter June 2013
- Single women make up the second largest segment of home purchases, with one out of every five homes purchases by a single woman, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. With more than 25 million single women over the age of 45 - whether never married, divorced, or widowed - it is making up a growing demographic. Some builders are reportedly adding two master bedrooms to help accommodate the 40 percent of single women who choose to have non-romantic roommates, according to AARP.
- The Home Affordable Refinance Program - a government refinancing program for underwater homeowners - will be expanded for another two years, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced. HARP was originally set to expire December. 31, 2013, but will now be extended to the end of 2015, according to Tom Kelly. Homeowners eligible to apply for refinancing under HARP must have a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed mortgage that was guaranteed on or before May 31, 2009, must be current on their loan, and must have a current loan-to-value ratio more than 80 percent.
- King, Snohomish have state's lowest unemployment: King and Snohomish counties had the state's lowest unemployment rates in February at 5.6 and 6.3 percent, respectively, according to data released in April by the state Employment Security Department. Both counties improved from their January rates of 6.3 percent and 7.1 percent. That put them ahead of Whitman County, which in January had Washington's lowest rate of 5.8 percent but saw unemployment grow to 6.4 percent last month.
- Retail sales rise 5.6% statewide: Taxable retail sales in Washington rose 5.6 percent to $29.5 billion during the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to that period in 2011, according to the Washington State Department of Revenue. In Seattle, retail rose 6.8 percent to $4.6 billion. Construction also rose a substantial 9.6 percent in that time frame.
- Polygon Homes to acquire downtown Bothell development site in $8.2 million deal: Polygon Homes could build at least 100 townhomes in downtown Bothell, city officials said in April. On Tuesday, April 16, the City Council approved a tentative agreement to sell 5.5 acres to the Bellevue-based company for $5 million. Polygon also would have to spend more than $3.2 million to improve roads and make other infrastructure improvements around the site that is due south of Pop Keeney Stadium.
- Report indicates two 14-Story residential towers to be built at Bellevue Square: According to a report by The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce Kemper Development, developer and operator of Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place and Lincoln Square, has a plan to build two 14-story residential towers and nearly 250,000 square feet of retail on the southeast corner of Bellevue Square. According to the report, Kemper Development has begun a conversation with city of Bellevue administrators regarding the plan. The publication reported that City Urban Design Planning Manager Liz Stead disclosed to the Journal, that Kemper officials had a meeting with the city last month to discuss the project.
- Seattle moves up a bit in economic rankings: Seattle moved to No. 27 last month from No. 29 a month earlier in economic rankings of the nation's top 102 markets. According to research by On Numbers, the research division of American City Business Journals, Austin, Texas is the nation's economic pacesetter for the second straight month, followed by Provo, Utah. Eighteen statistical indicators are analyzed each month by the On Numbers Economic Index, which tracks conditions in the 102 major metropolitan areas with populations above 500,000.
- Land developers are selling homes faster than they can build: Land developers in the Puget Sound are now selling new homes faster than they are preparing construction-ready lots. As the housing market bottomed out and began recovering in 2012, King County's supply of vacant lots went from a 58-month supply in 2009 to a staggering 16-month supply. Replenishing the region's lot inventories will likely take a few years and could drive up home prices as competition over vacant lots gets tighter, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.
- King County house prices jumped almost 20 percent over year: The median price of single-family homes sold in King County leapt in March to $392,000 as buyers, many waving all-cash offers, bid up the region's tight inventory. With 40 percent fewer houses for sale than a year ago, March's median closing price was 19 percent higher than the previous March and up 7 percent from February, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported.